Primary Sources

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Primary Sources

Teachers, need a primary source to create a lesson in the classroom? 

         Students, need a source for a research project? 

You can find the primary sources that are used in the unit plans here where they are searchable by keyword, title, and topic.  

Besides an image of the source, on its page, you may also find ways to purchase copies for the classroom, a transcription, and its proper citation for inclusion in a bibliography.

Our digitized collection, however, is much bigger than this selection.  Be sure to search the Collection section of our website too, through Discover (HSP's Online Catalog) and the Digital Library.

And if you  need help reading old handwriting, there are many sources on line, such as this one from


Deed between William Penn and the Delaware Indians, July 15, 1682. This deed granted William Penn the land between the Delaware River and Neshaminy Creek.

This belt commemorates William Penn's treaty with the Delaware Valley Indians.

Thomas Holme's A Portraiture of the City of Philadelphia in the Province of Pennsylvania.  In 1682, William Penn appointed Holme surveyor-general of Pennsylvania and charged him with the task of laying out the "greene country towne" that Penn envisioned along the Delaware River.  The site that Penn acquired for the city of Philadelphia stretched two miles east to west across a tract of land situated between the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers; all told, the rectangular grid of land comprised twelve thousand acres.  Holme imposed an orderly grid plan on the site, with streets organized aroun

A portrait of a young African American boy from circa 1861-1865.

This image appeared as an illustration in the January 24, 1863 issue of Harper's Weekly. It celebrated President Abraham Lincoln's decree emancipating slaves during the Civil War.  At the top of the illustration, the female figure Columbia, an early symbol of the United States, cheers emancipation. A portrait of President Lincoln is inset below.  

A print from 1863 with text that reads, "When Black Meets Black, Then Comes the End of War--and Slavery."

This tintype is a full-length portrait of an African American family, with a man standing next to his seated wife and daughter. 

A lithograph with an inscription that reads, “Published by the Supervisory Committee for recruiting colored regiments. 1210 Chestnut St. Philadelphia.”

The proprietor of the Evening Journal in 1861 was a gentleman by the name of Albert Boileau, He was arrested because he was responsible for the Journal's publication of articles that denounced certain strategies of the North's effort in the Civil War and disparaged Lincoln's administration. This article debriefs the public on the court case that examined the legality of what the northern newspaper, the Evening Journal,  printed for the public.

This bulletin published in 1863 informs readers of the arrest of the proprietor of the Philadelpia Evening Journal, Dr. Albert Boileau, as well as of an associate of the Journal. The Journal recently published articles that derided the government and presidential administration, which is also mentioned in the article. Although stating that the reason for the arrests is unknown, the author of this report connects the two events, whereby highlighting the intolerance of dissident opinions regarding the political administration of the North during the Civil War. 

An editorial published during the Civil War, the author warns the public of insidious Southern decrees that may misguide readers about the suppression of "treasonable presses" in New York. The editorial debates violation of the First Amendment, by declaring that all supporters of the secession are in fact traitors, and have no rights, including freedom of the press.

This newspaper article from an 1861 Evening Bulletin informs the public about the shutdown of a "rebel newspaper" called the Christian Observor. The Christian Observor is described as "obnoxious" due to its pro-slavery stance.